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The Fantasy of Krapoz

So in going through the many photos in the 1000 Words We Are Juxt Flickr gallery, I ran into this photo called Krapoz The Secret Life of Eugenius Katze PHd. It totally blew my mind. A bobcat in a trenchcoat painted onto this canvas titled ending with PHd…seriously, it blew my mind.  I had to learn more and asked if we could put the image into our first showcase.  In getting to know the artist more, I continually was amazed by how he was envisioning his work. What goes on in the mind of someone when they choose to place a Great White shark above a beach? This was my next image from this artist that dumbfounded me.  It was enough for me to show to my son as I skim through the many images on Flickr.  My son at the time, was totally enamored by sharks.  He could tell you the type of shark, the depths at which they swim, how dangerous they are to humans, etc.  He was really into sharks.  When I showed him this photo, he totally got it. “That’s one of the most dangerous sharks in the world, daddy. He probably isn’t so mean since he’s out of water.  I like that painting a lot daddy!” So…like a good father would do, I let the artist know.

Giuseppe Capozzo is his name.  He is one of the nicest, humblest, and most amazing mobile artist out there. He responded to my comment on his image and asked for my email.  I provided, he then sent me the highest resolution of the image.  My son and I went to Costco and printed it up.  To this day, it still is up and he adores it.

This is a long time coming.  I have wanted to interview Giuseppe for quite a while now.  I am proud and honored to introduce you all (in case you don’t know him yet) to Krapoz. My friend, Giuseppe Capozzo!

Tell us about yourself. Your work life, your family life, artist influences in your family and who and what they are?

Hi everyone! Even though I’m mostly known as krapoz even outside the mobile photography scene, my real name is Giuseppe Capozzo and I’m a 36-years-old music-digger app-junkie psycho-sensitive family-man.

I got a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction and worked so far as a Creative Technologist for some of the biggest Digital Advertising Agencies here in Italy. In the very recent times I’ve started refocusing my career and, as you can easily imagine, “mobile” is one of the keywords I chose for my professional development.

I have never approved the usual separation between letters and numbers, heart and reason, poetry and mathematics: rather, in my studies as well as in my work and in my interests, I always tried to find the intimate relationship between the two parties, as two opposites that attract and find support from each other.

I’ve been lucky enough to be born and grown up into a family with a good amount of members involved – both for work and passion – in the visual arts, including painting and illustration; for this reason it was easy for me to have a natural inclination towards such beautiful things.

Where are you from? Where have you lived prior?

I spent the first half of my life in the glorious sunshine of Southern Italy before relocating near Milan where I actually live together with my insanely lovely wife and daughter.

At the time when I decided to leave my parents’ house to experience the madness of the college life, I was chasing the dream of being part of an active alternative music scene: Milan was not Seattle but I’m happy to have come in contact with a lot of interesting people and situations all over these years – between concerts, records and dreams that have come and gone but, somehow, are still here.

How does your answers above influence your work in mobile photography and mobile arts?

Being in the end a tech-guy, I love to experiment with apps first of all because I’m interested in their functional aspects. In the last 5 years I downloaded about 1000 apps (of any kind even if the highest number of occurrences is from photo/video and music genres) and several times I intentionally integrated one app into my workflow with the only aim to “benchmark” its capabilities. And I’m not just speaking of editing power or special effects: I’m also referring to user-experience and usability, the key factors which in my opinion often make the difference between a good and a bad app.

On the other side, a lot of photographs at the base of my compositions have been taken when I was around with my family or during the short periods in my homeland at the seaside. Outside of work I try to spend a rather quiet life so, when the occasion arises, I love to invest a good part of my (very little) free time in the creation of small visual stories as a way to release my thoughts and relax before going to bed.

Who are your main draws for inspirations in art in general – fine art, music etc? Do you have 1-2 photographs or art that you feel are main source/s of inspiration in your work currently?

As said, music has always played a huge part on the creative side of my life: that’s why I’m very happy when people say that my images could be album covers. Well, I don’t pretend to be good at creating album covers (that still represent a great source of inspiration!) but every single image I create is definitely the cover of one of the imaginary records that continuously take shape inside my head. So we could go on for hours talking about musical references but, in brief, I really love bands/authors whose music manages to be imaginative, courageous, free and at the same time emotional.

In general, I like artistic expressions that can be enjoyed at multiple levels. And I’m strongly convinced that effective communication, in the arts as in all fields and especially when “speaking” to different audiences, is one of the hardest things to achieve; thus, being able to communicate this way is a gift and a priceless talent that ennobles the heart of both those who offer that those who receive.

On a more strictly visual side I can’t help but mention – as object of devotion before of inspiration – the work of the “classical”Surrealists (Dalì and Magritte above all); moreover in recent times I filled my shelves with a series of releases from Gestalten, a wonderful publishing house located in Berlin strongly focused on contemporary arts. Last but not least some months ago I finally had the immense pleasure of putting my hands on “Generative Design: Visualize, Program, and Create with Processing”, the book I was waiting for a lifetime: pure eye-candy.

When did you start in mobile photography/mobile artistry?

Ever since I got my first iPhone in 2008 (the good old 3G!), I’ve always tried to explore the creative potential of this amazing device. As for photography, things got “serious” when, back to 2010, I downloaded Hipstamatic. Suddenly my camera roll began to fill with nice retro-looking pictures – they looked so pretty despite the very limited capabilities of that tiny fuzzy camera – so I quickly changed my mind on the real possibilities of creating images with a phone.

But soon I was needing some more: a lot of image editing apps were popping up in the App Store and I was constantly tempted to try each one seemed to be able to offer something more or different than the others. At the same time, driven by curiosity I began to discover the first blogs and the first groups on Flickr dedicated to iPhoneography: I would have never imagined that so many people –regardless of age, culture and origins – were creating beautiful images and sharing them directly from their smartphones. I was immediately hooked and stimulated to create and share the results of my efforts; and after almost three years I’m here and it still feels great to discover and learn from the work of mobile photographers/artists from all over the world.

Can you tell us more about the stories you portray in your images? When you start your post process, what would you say sparks your ideas?

As you can see, in most of my images I like to stay on the edge between reality and hallucination; and to reach my goal I use to place fantastic characters within ordinary scenarios or, conversely, real-world elements inside abstract dreamscapes, depicting in this way situations that, depending on the occasion, may be evocative, ironic, surreal or simply weird.

Since much of my work consists of montages, my creative approach is rather meditated to such a point that the production of a new image can last for several days. Usually it all begins with a simple vision: this can happen on the way between home and work, during the exploration of a new app or just going backwards between photos taken more or less recently. Thus, feeling inspired, I start thinking about how to combine the material (pictures) and tools (apps) available to me in order to give life to the idea that flashed in my head.

Certainly every time I’m going to create a new image I feel excited and within a few minutes I am completely absorbed in the manipulation process, just as if I had stepped into a parallel dimension where I can finally free my imagination in search of a new way to blend reality and dream; therefore, besides a self-interpretation of my own oneiric world, this is definitely a fun way to rework the mundane experience in a more creative and dreamy way – also because each image and each title brings with it at least a reference to something that actually happened in my everyday life.

It’s so interesting the imagery you portray. It’s almost like a children’s book. Have you thought of text that may accompany your images in the form of a short story or even a children’s story?

I must say that you’re not the first telling me this and not only I’m really happy and flattered but at the same time I admit that it’s something I’d really like to do, if only I had a little more free time. The challenge in this case would be, however, to retain the original spirit of the visual storytelling: in some ways, I do not want my words to limit or constrain the free interpretation of the image that each viewer can give according to its sensitivity.

Anyway, being a father myself, I am rather trained on conceiving little bedtime stories and apparently my beloved daughter appreciates my efforts; on the other hand I’m a big fan of many of her picture books: in many cases these are truly works of art that should receive greater recognition.

This said, anything related to children is great: I hold in high regard their opinion and feelings because, in addition to be pure and not afraid to express their own emotions, they also have a fantasy that inspires and always leaves me in awe.

My kid absolutely loves the image with the shark! So much so, it inspired me to tell you how much it impacted him, in turn me. Without hesitation, you provided the file so I may print it out for him. To this day, he has it hanging up in his room. You’re heart is big man. It totally shows how inspired and inspiring you are. Can you name some of your inspiring mobile photographers/artists and why?

First of all, your kid is really, really cool and has – like his father –very good taste, ha! But seriously, to know that on the other side of the planet a child has enjoyed one of my works to the point of hanging it on the wall of his room is worth more than a million likes or a million followers. And it’s one of the best answers I can give to myself when I wonder why I’m up late at night to finalize my creative impulse.

About my mobile-related inspirations, I would like to avoid a flood of names since I’ve been impressed and inspired by the talent of so many wonderful guys so far. Instead I’ll just mention the unforgettable beginnings with the “app-migos” on Flickr, the really supportive and welcoming community of artists of IPA, the unbeatable purists of street photography and monochrome on EyeEm and all the tireless remixers of photography, typography and design that I love to discover on Instagram. To all of them goes my admiration and gratitude.

With the “only wanted to be nice with you” image, can you tell us your thoughts when you started this edit?

Most of the time people (myself included for sure!) are scared by someone or something they don’t even know. And just as often, even after knowledge, they get stuck to the prejudice and keep on being suspicious despite evidences of innocuity and integrity.

Look at the face of this shark: how could you be afraid? He goes to great lengths to redeem its reputation, even follow out of the water who ran away believing to be eaten shortly thereafter.

So with this image I wanted to describe the exact feeling I get every time I think about how difficult it is to prove and convince someone to be changed for the better after a lot of past mistakes; and, more sad, sometimes a lifetime is not enough to achieve such a goal.

On the other side, I’ve always liked the concept of the “fish out of water”, a kind of romantic figure who has to deal with places and situations that are not her/his own and, due to this inadequacy, ends up acting in an awkward and paradoxical way. And in this case, just to exaggerate, we have a big, really big fish. How sweet!

Can you do the same with “mind overseas / feet in the past”?

This image is all about introspection. It’s the inner struggle that we live when we are faced with decisions or changes that somehow mean giving up ideas and values that were once important to us.

It’s the search for an intimate balance with respect to our existence when we try to look at it and realize that, although it is easy to let ourselves go with projects, wishes and dreams, we always have to come to terms with our past.

In this way the image can have both a sense of hope (the dancer that follows the flight of birds with disenchantment) that one of resignation and acceptance of its limits (a human in the end can not fly due to its heavy body).

Can you walk us through the process for “The Story of Dr. Eugenius Katze”?

Sure, with pleasure! To be precise, this was one the images chosen for the first week of the 1000 Words showcase. As explained in the accompanying text, here we have “three different pics taken in three different seasons, three different sundays, three different places. Mixed together to tell one story, the story of Dr. Eugenius Katze”. Actually I did not take these pictures with the intention of creating a scene; rather, as often happens, the idea came scrolling through the items in my camera roll.

I envisioned a situation involving this strange character, half-human half-feline, caught by surprise while he was in the company of another subject (the “real” cat in the background), which presumably means a lot for him. A kind of love story, open to the imagination of the viewer, that comes from the mysterious past of a researcher who had dedicated his entire life to the study of felines and now has to hide to avoid the judgment of the common people.

As always I had great fun during the editing process: following are the primary steps of the “app-stacking” workflow that led me to the final image.

I created a raw two-pass montage in Superimpose, thus gathering the scenery and the protagonists of the story. Then, with the help of Big Lens, I added a simple DOF effect just to highlight the main character and hopefully deceive the viewer’s eye in a more convincing way.

I love the woodblock printing effect of the Moku Hanga app and I thought it would work well with the hair of the felines. So, after a bit of tweaking (this app offers a lot of parameters to control), I managed to get a satisfactory outcome; this done, I brought the resulting image into Image Blender and mixed it with its unprocessed version in order to soften the edges and reveal more natural colors.

Time to work on some details and refine the composition: first I loaded the last image in Tiffen Photo fx and enclosed the scene into a big white circle, just to enhance the overall visual impact (in fact this is an off-centered White Circle Vignette with Softness set to 0 and Amount to 100); then I added some depth in PicBoost, layering one of those beautiful gritty Film Overlays with about 50% opacity.

Finished compositing, I usually start with the color correction/manipulation. In this case I used the excellent Retro filter of PictureShow (that is one of the first apps I purchased in the far 2010): I really love those faded tones. Then I added a subtle handwritten texture in ScratchCam FX with the aim to increase the vintage look just achieved; finally, I opened the image in Photo fx again in order to finalize everything with a touch of Faux Film – no more than some grain to please the eye and bring together all the graphic elements introduced along the processing. Done!

What are your last thoughts brother for all the folks reading about you?

It’s impossible not to notice that We Are Juxt is a work of love and passion and this is exactly the thing that in my opinion leaves a strong mark in the soul and overcomes the passing of time. For this reason today I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to share my thoughts and showcase some of my work here. Thanks a million, Brad, I can feel from overseas your dedication to our community and I greatly appreciate your precious support and encouragement; and thank you kindly, reader, I really hope this will be another way to shorten the distance and – if not already happened – have the pleasure of crossing our paths soon.

Visit Giuseppe:
Flickr // EyeEm // Instagram // Twitter

7 Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you for interviewing Kapoz / Giuseppe! I’ve been a huge fan of his for forever now it seems! And you’re right, he’s one of the most humble and talented and kindest mobile artists out there . . . he’s amazing! :-)

  2. What a great read!!! I am happy to see “behind the curtain” a bit more and get to know this amazing artist who I have come to know through our passion for mobile photography. I knew we shared a love for music and surreal, dreamy images and it was interesting to get a deeper understanding for it. I have always been so in awe of these magical creations (that of which I totally agree could be fantastic album covers) and wondered how on earth he gets them so darn good!!!

    Great choice and I agree, he is so nice and talented. Thanks for featuring him. Well deserved. He is very inspiring (and kind) to me :)

    • It cut me off!! Suzy as in Black Eyed Suzy!!!
      Congrats again Giuseppe!!

  3. Outstanding artistry and love Kapoz’s imagination! Just wow…

  4. Superb article about a superb artist! I really enjoyed getting to know more about Krapoz’s thought process and working methods.

  5. Really fascinating article! Loved reading about Giuseppe’s work, and thought process.

  6. Always a pleasure to read the thoughts behind some fine art.
    And love the statement about mobile arts being open to many despite their age etc.
    Since I have been trying to keep my montages 100% mobile shot and edited so as to be accepted by some communities…and not a fan of stock imagery …I must say –I need to get out more so I too can get some dancers for my work. Although I can do without getting to close to a shark!